Junior World Championships: Baby Boks in top shape and confident, says centre Francois Venter

2011-06-03 00:00

CAPE TOWN — South Africa U20 centre Francois Venter said yesterday that the Baby Boks are in top shape and insisted that this year’s team are confident of improving their record at the IRB Junior World Championships.

The Baby Boks achieved bronze medals during last year’s tournament in Argentina, and have ended in third position during the previous two under-20 tournaments.

Venter was a member of the South African team that competed in the 2010 IRB Junior World Championship and believes that his previous experience and that of three other players — Wandile Mjekevu, Lohan Jacobs and Siya Kolisi — could add further value to the team as they attempt to claim their maiden title.

“It was an experience and a great opportunity for me to be part of the team that competed in Argentina last year, and I am honoured to once again be part of the set-up this year,” said Venter.

“We were desperately disappointed after going down to New Zealand in the semi-finals, but compliments to the guys for showing great character to defeat England in the match for the bronze medal. Ironically that was also our hat-trick of third place finishes at these IRB Junior World Championships …

“Obviously, like every team, our intentions are to win the trophy. But to win the World Champs we’ll have to put ourselves in a perfect position to stake that claim. To win this tournament we are going to have to buy in to a complete effort from 22 players for five matches played every four days.

“We’ve enjoyed a relatively good build-up to the tournament with in Argentina during our two-match tour of South America,” Venter said.

The Springbok Sevens trio of Paul Jordaan, Tshotsho Mbovane and Craig Barry are expected to express their talent and skill in the 15-man format of the game in Italy later this month.

SA U20 winger Wandile Mjekevu, who represented the MTN Lions during last season’s Vodacom Super 14, is another player who, like Venter, will compete in his second season for the Baby Boks.

The other two players who competed in last year’s IRB Junior World Championship and who will once again don the green and gold for the Under-20 team are Vodacom Blue Bulls scrumhalf Lohan Jacobs and Western Province flanker Siya Kolisa.

The SA U20s leave for Italy tomorrow in preparation for their first Pool C fixture against Scotland on June 10. The 26-man squad will be capped at a ceremony in Cape Town tonight.

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